tv U.S. Ambassador to Russia Nominee Jon Huntsman Testifies on Capitol H Ill CSPAN September 19, 2017 9:59am-12:34pm EDT
information inside north korea. broadcasting information in to change attitudes and conditions in north korea. we simply aren't doing this well enough. and it must be a priority. and again, thank you for your testimony. we look forward to your follow-up. and this hearing stands adjourned. live on capitol hill this morning for a hearing on the nomination of former utah governor jon huntsman to be ambassador to russia. the senate foreign relations committee will also consider the nomination of a. wes mitchell to serve as assistant secretary of state for european and
that they can go on to their other business. we will then convene -- adjourn and convene the business meetings for just a moment and hopefully pass the nominees out and pass some bills out. and then we'll resume with the great testimony we know we'll hear from our nominees. so with that, again, we welcome you. if i -- i don't know if i can remember the seniority order. i know senator cornyn is first in soeniority. i'll let you guys arm-wrestle over it while senator cornyn gets his comments. thank you so much for being willing to come and make good comments about outstanding nominees. we thank you. yes, sir. >> thank you, chairman corker. and ranking member carden, thank you for holding this hearing. i am here primarily to introduce wess mitchell, but i have to
comment on the great willingness of jon huntsman to serve his country once again, this time in another peaceful, placid sort of setting. in moscow this time. wess mitchell has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary of state for european and eurasianen affairs. he was born in lubbock, texas, a sixth generation texan. i am confident he'll bring his texas can-do attitude to the state department. he is joined by his wife elizabeth and their two children wesley and charlotte as well as other relatives. outside from being a texan, he has made a name for himself as the co-founder for the center of european policy analysis. or c epa, which he created with larry hirsch for the purpose of strengthening the economic and military ties between the united states and europe. his nomination could not come at a more critical time.
russia, as we know, is using both military and cyber capabilities to intimidate and pressure western nations while terrorist groups infiltrate their people. as we sit here today, russia, of course, is conducting its largest military exercise in years in the baltics. also troubling, the news that russia sold sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry to turkey in a clear attempt to try to drive a wedge in our nato alliance. through his work at cepa, he has advocated a strong u.s. position in europe to include u.s. leadership and participation in nato. along with ambassador nikki haley wess will bring deep institutional ground and leadership. i recently had the chance to travel with some of our colleagues to the balkans and met with their leaders who expressed their concern over the russian growing influence and the destabilizing of the refugee
crisis in europe. these countries look to the west for leadership, security, and trade. and i can't think of a better place for them to look rather than to fall into the tender mercies of vladimir putin and the russian federation. wess has created one of the largest nato brain trusts in the united states and i think is the kind of person we need to send to europe to reassert u.s. leadership following years of neglect. that's why i whole-heartedly support his nomination and encourage the committee to do the same. i look forward to working with him and the rest of the administration as we work to reestabli reestablish u.s. global leadership in the rest of the union. thank you for having me here today, and i commend this nominee for your support. thank you. >> thank you. thank you very much. is it going to be senator
manchin? >> i have one month's seniority. what a pleasure it is to be before you, chairman. truly in a bipartisan way because the person we are here to speak on behalf of is truly a bipartisan person wanting to get things done. i thank senator lee for being here also, i know they've been great friends. governor huntsman is a dear, personal friend of mine. governors have a bond unlike most other bonds in political life. we have the same problems and concerns for our constituents and we try to share our successes and help each other not to repeat the same mistakes we've made. it's a really unusual bond. to mary kay, his wife and gael and i have done things together and enjoy being together. they have six of their seven children with them today. they have two grandchildren and many more on the way i am sure. as we talk.
but with that, said, jon has a resume that's unbelievable. when you think about what jon has done in the past, ambassador to china and singapore, deputy united states trade representative, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for east asian pacific affairs and deputy assistant se assistant secretary of commerce for trade development. he is known most for his two terms as governor of utah. the people have overwhelmingly supported jon, endorsed and voted for him. he left the state in such great shape financially. we had a lot in common in the difficult times of the crash in 2007 and 2008. i know the compassion jon has. we have both gone through mining tragedies in our states. they were devastating to not just those of the families involved but to all of us. i watched jon rise up in compassion he had for each and every one of them, making sure it never repeated itself again.
i have seen that. i have worked with jon in a group called no labels. we were the first co-chairs, trying to bring people together in a bipartisan way, looking for a solution, not trying to exasperate the problems and identify the weaknesses of both sides. we have a troubled world that we live in. at this time we are the greatest superpower, the only superpower in the world. superpower means more than having super military might. it means having super diplomatic might also. that takes a person with skills unlike anything we've ever seen before. russia is a challenge to us but one we have to face and work with and try to find a pathway forward. there is only one person i know of and truly i mean this, who can go to russia, open up a dialogue, find a pathway and find agreements, disagreements where we respect each other and move forward in a troubled world, trying to keep it less violent. i come here with great pleasure in the opportunity to say to my
friend thank you for wanting to step up and serve again. yon is a tremendous patriot and american and he is also a great friend. i appreciate him very much. i encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote unanimously for this outstanding gentleman before us. >> thank you. senator lee. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i am not going to repeat all the resume items mentioned by senator man chchin but i'll ech that i can't imagine anyone as well qualified to take this post as u.s. ambassador to russia as my friend and former boss. governor jon huntsman. i served as his general counsel. i saw him in every imaginable circumstance that he worked through situations that one
could plausibly deal with as governor. in every circumstance he had one objective, which was to serve the people, to find the right outcome, and to make sure that families throughout utah, particularly the poor and middle class, were left in a better condition than he found them. and he succeeded. it is no coincidence that the man to my right became the most popular governor in america at the time. that his approval rating soared to a record 90%. now, i never met a member of that 10% group that apparently didn't approve of him. i am not sure they exist. but the fact that he was able to do all that he did as a policy reformer, as a change agent for government in utah, while still remaining as the most popular governor in america is itself remarkable. this is one who has served in
every republican administration since the reagan administration. and in addition to that he was tapped, of course, by president obama to serve as the ambassador to china. one interesting side note here is the fact that i think it's worth mentioning separately that he will have served as the u.s. ambassador both for china and if confirmed to this position the world's nation bearing the largest footprint. i think that is significant. in addition to this, he has served in a variety of capacities in corporate america, as an executive in the huntsman chemical corporation. he serves on the board of ford motor corporation. and then there is, of course, his most cherished and important position, that of being chairman of the board, i believe it is, or perhaps chief operating officer with mary kay serving as the chief executive officer of the huntsman family. jon and his lovely wife have
seven amazing children. that's no exaggeration here. i encourage each of you to get to know them. in short, this is someone who will representative the interests of the united states in every moment and in every circumstance regardless of where you fall on the ideological spectrum. you will be pleased with the service this man will perform if confirmed as u.s. ambassador to russia. >> thank you, senate lee. thank you all for your comments and your taking the time to be here. we appreciate that very much. you all are welcome to leave. we're going to move into a very boring business meeting, and it would indicate you don't have anything else to do if you stayed. so -- [ laughter ] >> the committee hearing is adjourned. briefly. we'll move to the business meeting. business meeting, the senator foreign relations committee will
come to order. we have a number of items on the agenda. three pieces of legislation and multiple nominations. hr 9390. iraq and syria sennoside and emergency relief accountability act. this is a priority for the foreign affairs committee. we are glad to work with them in that regard. seeks to ensure that adequate assistance reaches minority communities in iraq who suffered acts of genocide at the hands of isis. there is a particular concern of communities who wish to relocate their homes and that they receive appropriate support. this is an opportunity to enact the committee's work on the war crimes accountability act. we also thank senator shaheen for her work on the syria study group, which we are incorporating into hr 390. we will centonsider the trafficg victims reauthorization act of
2016. the act of 20000 as where we as a country and the world came to grips with the reality of modern slavery. this committee conducted oversight of the trafficking victims protection act, 2015 t.i.p. report was a turning point. came together in a united way to let the state department know that we and they must take the integrity of the report and its tier rankings seriously. i want to thank senator carden for his leadership. no doubt your consistency and passion is clear and remarkable, and i thank you for that. we also thank you for the provisions on the child soldiers recruiting thieves and reporting and strategy requirements, senator menendez and senator rubio have exercised real leadership also in our oversight efforts and contributed substantially to this bill. the reauthorization of the trafficking victims protection act allows us to reinforce
ouroversight in statute, strengthens integrity of the tier ranking system in a constructive way. we are also breaking new ground in requiring the state department's regional bureau assistant secretaries to work collaboratively with the t.i.p. ambassador and with embassies in countries where tier rankings are elevated from tier three to tier two. watch list, to prepare an action plan to get such countries on the path to tier two. the bill authorizes the full seven years for the end modern slavery initiative we approved in this committee. we worked with the appropriations committee to authorize appropriations at current levels for the duration of the bill. it's important to take every opportunity to fulfill our responsibilities to authorize appropriations. we'll also consider s. res 168 supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive -- governance in ethiopia. the united states has an important and ongoing relationship with the government
of ethiopia and we cooperate with them on areas of mutual interest including regional stability. counter-terrorism and economic resilience in drought-prone and food insecure regions. nonetheless, it is reasonable to raise legitimate concerns with our allies in private, which we have for many years, but to do so more publicly when that fails. there is great potential for ethiopia as well as great risk to this important regional partner and to our own interests. this resolution calls on ethiopia to address long standing tensions with the majority of ethiopians through transparent justice and necessary political reforms. thanks senator carden and others for bringing up this resolution. we'll also vote on a number of nominees today. i thank my colleagues for allowing the committee to take these steps forward today. and i will read their names
later. are there any other member comments? >> mr. chairman, let me first thank you for this business meeting. the three legislative matters that we have are all very, very important. i am pleased that we are able to move forward on hr 390, the genocide emergency and relief -- genocide emergency relief and accountability act that was introduced by congressman smith and passed the house of representatives in june. it deals with circumstances in iraq. there is an agreed-to amendment that will include the accountability for war crimes, the syrian war crimes accountability act. we'll combine iraq and syria into one bill and providing accountability for war crimes. i was pleased to be the sponsor of the syrian war crimes accountability act that passed this committee in june. so this is a matter that's already been before our committee in regards to syria. the iraq is the first opportunity. accountability for war crimes is
critically important. we all will say "never again." and the only way "never again" will be realized is if we make sure that those who commit atrocities are held fully accountable. the united states must be in the leadership. this legislation will provide assistance for investigation so that we can have the information necessary to hold those responsible for these atrocities accountable. secondly it helps the victims. mr. chairman you were kind in your comments regarding the trafficking and persons act about the compassion i have on this issue. we would agree that no one has shown greater leadership on this issue than our chairman. so we thank you for your commitment to end this modern-day slavery, this moral challenge to the united states. you have been in the forefront in our country and globally on ending modern-day slavery. i strongly support the
reauthorization act and want to acknowledge the work of senator menendez and rubio. thank you very much for recognizing two important points in this bill. first, we want the facts to judge the tier rankings, not politics. whether it's a democratic administration or a republican administration, we want these determinations to be made by the facts in the country. secondly, in regards to children, i appreciate the issue in regards to child soldiers but also slaver that will require tier three rankings for countries who do not meet the minimum conditions and that we prohibit u.s. grants from including reimbursement on recruitment or placement fees because that becomes bond -- debt bondage. lastly, i want to thank you for bringing up senate res 168 that i authored with senate rubio to make it clear this our counter-terrorism partners do not get a free pass on human rights and democracy. this resolution is clear about
that. i would ask in regards to the nominees that two of the nominees be separated for discussion and vote, that would be k.t. maccfarland and mr. manchester. >> i would be glad to do that. senator shaheen. >> thank you. thank you for the work you've done on these acts. i want to very much thank you and senator carden for working to incorporate into this legislation work i've done on a study group on the conflict in syria. even though the syrian conflict has been pushed off the front pages of the papers and the evening news, the fact is that the environment there is increasingly complex. on saturday we saw syrian democratic forces and russian
hezbollah assad forces clash where russian sources bombed the american-backed fighters tasked with clearing isis in the region. so this is a conflict that continues. and so far we have not had a clear strategy for how we address the region, and our troops and partners have been forced to jump from one tactical maneuver to the next. the study required by this legislation i hope will help our troops and diplomats prepare for contingencies in syria. it is -- it does require government consultation from both the departments of state and defense, and the review board would be appointed by bipartisan members of house and senate national security committees. i think it will provide meaningful and actionable recommendations in the manner of previously congressionally mandated conditions. that's its charge. hopefully it will come out with a strategy that can be helpful
as we look at ending this years' long conflict. thank you very much, mr. chairman and saerenator carden. >> thank you. any other comments to be made about legislation? >> is this an appropriate time to offer amendments? >> we have one member moving down the hallway. he is actually here now. why don't i -- thank you so much, sir. why don't i move to the nominations and then move to the legislation, if that is okay. i know there are concerns about two of the nominees. as the ranking member requested, what i would like to do first is move to the honorable barbara lee to be representative to the u.n. general assembly, honorable chris smith to be representative to the u.n. general assembly. steve mnuchin to the development bank, international bank for
reconstruction development. european bank for reconstruction and development. african development fund and asian development bank. mr. steven king to be ambassador to the czech republic and the honorable john bass to be ambassador to afghanistan. all those in favor of a bloc vote -- so moved. do we have a second? all those in favor say aye. opposed? with that the ayes have it. now we have two other members that we're going to vote on. do you all want to vote on the two of them together? >> no. i would like to do it separately and make a brief statement in regards to each if i might. >> okay. next i would like to call up the -- >> mr. chairman. >> with your indulgence, could i say a brief word about mr. bass. i just supported his nomination, obviously. >> sure. >> i think he is eminently qualified with a distinguished
record of foreign service. i submitted a question of the record to mr. bass relating to t the kabul compact. i asked him if he would work with general nicholson through the state department to provide my office or this committee a detailed, specific and written unclassified assessment of where the afghan government is falling short on these commitments and how kabul plans to address the short comings. the response i got was somewhat vague. i know he had a lot of questions to respond to and so forth. i still have confidence that he'll serve and serve well, which is why i support his nomination. we need to stay vigilant as a committee with respect to that issue moving forward. >> thank you, chairman. maybe before it comes to the floor you'll get a better response from him on that. someone else. >> i wish to record it as a no
vote on the nominations related to mr. mnuchin. >> so ordered. >> thank you. >> anyone else? >> with that, we'll move to roll call votes individually. the first nomination will -- the first vote will be on mr. doug manchester to be ambassador to bahamas. >> mr. chairman, the bahamas is a transit country for illicit drugs bound for the united states which means that our ambassador must possess the skills to advance strategic counter-narcotics operation. in addition, a majority of the estimated 5.6 million tourists visiting the bahamas are from the united states, requiring an unwavering attention to consular services. i am concerned mr. manchester lacks these requirements, he has been described in news reports as abrasive, a poor manager and prone to verbal tirades. additionally he has made a number of troubling statements during his nomination hearings
including the bahamas is a protectate of the united states and that the united states would want to avoid a south china sea situation with the bahamas. this wou i note that u.s. ambassador to nassau hasn't had an ambassador for some time. i cannot support him. if we have confirmation the nomination process and hearings are meaningful, i don't believe this person deserves our support. >> any other comments? with that, we'll have a roll call vote on his nomination. clerk will call the roll. [ roll call taking place ]
who clearly has a desire for public service, and i admire that in her. however, given the range of strategic challenges across the globe that our country faces, it is vital that the u.s. ambassador is seen as a unifying figure. following extensive consideration of miss mcfarland's record. i concluded that her past record would make it difficult for her to serve in the unifying force. for that reason i am unable to support her nomination. i appreciate the nominees' efforts to explain her substantial record of inflammatory statements including stating that vladimir putin is one who really deserves the nobel peace prize for his work in syria, saying of water-boarding, even if it's torture it's probably worth doing or saying of saudi arabia, they're arabs, they are not going to say to your face something that they know will upset you. it does not appear that the nominee has been particularly
careful or judicious in the statements she has made in the past and language is very important to be an ambassador. additionally, i have concerns regarding the nominee's involvement as deputy to general flynn during the transition process. unfortunately her answers to inquiries were not sufficient responsive to meet all my concerns. for that reason i will not support her nomination. >> thank you. any other comments? i did think she tried to answer those question and did so adequately. i know she has been in the entertainment business in the past and sometimes people say things. i thank you for your concerns. with that, the clerk will call the roll. [ roll call in process ]
>> the nominee has passed and will move to the floor, and i thank all of you for participating. with that, we will move to legislation. and we'll move to hr 390. senator cardin, would you like to offer -- any other member, would you like to speak of this or any other member? i'll entertain a motion to consider the substitute amendment in the
cain/corker/murphy by bloc vote. >> so moved. >> is there a second? >> so moved and seconded. the question is on the motion to substitute -- to approve the substitute amendment in the cain/worker/murphy amendment. all those in favor say aye. opposed? the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. any further amendments? seeing none, is there a motion to approve the legislation as amended? >> so moved. >> second? >> seconded. >> the question is on the motion to approve hr 390 as amended. all in favor say aye? opposed? the ayes have it. the legislation as amended is agreed to. next we'll move to traf ibing victims protection act reauthorization of 2017. senator cardin, would you or any other member like to speak to this? >> i have already spoken. i am fine. >> first i would like to entertain a motion to consider a substitute amendment. flake number one and flake three
revised enbloc by voice vote. >> moved. >> flake one and revised flake three enbloc by voice vote. those in favor say aye. opposed? with that, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. any further amendments? seeing none, is there a motion to approve the legislation as amended? >> so moved. >> a second. >> second. >> so moved and seconded. the question is on the motion to approve tvpa authorizations as amended. those in favor say aye. opposed? the ayes have it. next we'll move to s-res 168. senator cardin would you like to speak to this? >> i have already spoken. >> i's there a second? >> second. >> moved and seconded. question is on the motion to i a prove the substitute amendments enbloc by voice vote. the ayes have it.
i marital settlement agreements ait.. the amendments are agreed to. so moved and seconded. question is on the motion to approve s-res 168 as amended. those in favor say aye. opposed? with that, the ayes have it. the legislation as amended is agreed to. that complete the committee's business. i ask unanimous consent staff be authorized to make technical and conforming changes. with that the committee will stand adjourned. we'll reconvene our hearing. i want to thank everybody for their cooperation in moving through that. it's very much appreciated.
i'll give a brief opening statement and i am sure senator cardin will do the same. europe and eurasia are home to some of the closest partners and also some of our greatest challenges. formed in 1949 to defend the free people of the west from soviet threat, nato remains vital to the security of europe and the united states. european union is also a critical partner in trade, politics and global humanitarian efforts. additionally, united states' oldest and best allies, france and united kingdom are european countries. we look to the bureau to manage these relationships so the united states reasserts itself on the world stage, yet russia -- russia's bad acts complicate much of the good that the united states tries to do. the russian federation possesses not only the second most powerful military in the world but also a seat on united nations security council where
its veto protects war criminals such as bashar al assad. in the last several years russia has twice invaded ukraine where it continues to illegally occupy crimea and aggravate the war there. vladimir putin entered the syrian war on the side of the regime and has repeatedly used chemical weapons on civilians. last year russian efforts to influence the 2016 u.s. election fundamentally damaged our bilateral relationship. if that weren't enough russia, in its violation of the intermediate range nuclear forces treaty, it's in violation and failing to meet its obligations under the treaty on open skies. on the other hand, we have many issues of common interest and figuring out a way to move between these issues accessfully will be a great challenge for our next ambassador. today's nominees will need to perform some of the most important diplomatic work that our country could require to preserve our interests
throughout europe and guard against further russian aggression. we thank them for their willingness to serve and welcome them to the committee today. senator cardin. >> let me welcome both of our witnesses. it is a pleasure to have the two nominees before us. i can't think of two more important positions that this committee will consider than the two positions we are considering today. they are that consequential. i had a chance to meet with both nominees, and i found the discussions to be extremely helpful and very encouraging. as to the amount of agreement as to the importance of the assignment and the manner in which our nominees will carry out that responsibility if confirmed. governor huntsman, it's a pleasure to have you back. you just can't seem to avoid the desire to serve the community. and we thank you for that.
you're entitled to a little time off, but you seem not to want a little time off from public service. we thank you for your willingness, and i particularly want to thank your family because this is a family commitment. it will be interesting, your observations as to whether russia was more challenging or less challenging than china. i mean, you have really taken on some of the most difficult challenges in our country. and you started with singapore. put utah in there someplace. and then decided to go on. we thank you for that. as the chairman pointed out, russia is really a challenged relationship that we have. they attacked us and our democracy in 2016. they invaded ukraine, and they still illegally occupy crimea. they are supporting the assad regime in syria. that is why congress passed the sanctions act against russia, to make it clear that that type of behavior will not go
unchallenged. and we will look forward to you in implementing that legislation. our goal is to change russia's behavior, particularly as it reflects u.s. interests. it is not to have a chummy relationship with russia without a change in behavior. yes, we always want to have constructive relationships with all countries, but for us to have that bond, we need to have a country that respects our independence and respects universal values. and today russia has done neither. i hope that for russia's fighting for freedom in their country that the house will be welcomed for civil society which has been the tradition of the u.s. representation and mission. i appreciate your commitment to continue that tradition and i hope there will be regular
dialogues sponsored by the united states on human rights. the slain opposition leader mentioned the most pro-russian legislation ever enacted. we'll look to you to help us implement that pro-russian people legislation known as the mcnitsky act. to mr. mitchell. thank you for your willingness to serve. i also acknowledge your family as a family sacrifice. i can't think of a more important region of the world, the transatlantic partnership is critically important to the united states and our security in defense of our democratic values. we are stronger when united with europe. we saw that with iran. when the sanctions were applied
we got their attention. the same thing will be true with russia. we have been in unity with europe on russia. we now believe we need to take it to the next plateau. your responsibility will be to meet with our european partners to maintain that unity. we need to build resiliency in our democratic institutions across europe. russia's agrgression is not jus as the united states. we welcome working with the european partners to strengthen that resiliency. another hat i wear as the ranking democratic on oscc helsinki commission. many challenges in addition to russia. you've got brexit, you've got turkey and how we're dealing with turkey. you have the migration issues, you have unity against isil, concerns of erosion in the democratic process in some of
our european countries that are members of eu and nato. so you have a full plate, and we look forward to that discussion and thank you for your willingness to be here and take on this responsibility. >> governor, we thank you so much for being here. i want to join in with senator cardin in thank youing ying you many years of service here in our country and in china and other places also. i had a great meeting with you yesterday and strongly support your nomination. i am glad your family is willing to do this. we had some conversations about your wonderful spouse and why she would do this, and maybe you'll speak to that in a moment. but we do hope you will introduce them. we thank you for bringing them with you. we know it's a partnership. we are anxious to hear your testimony. if you could summarize in about five minutes any other materials that you want to enter into the record, we're glad to do so. thank you for your distinguished past service and thank you for
your willingness to serve your country in this way. with that, if you would begin, we appreciate it. >> thank you, chairman corker. to ranking member cardin, thank you for your comments as well, for your kind and encouraging words about our return to public service and fitting in my time as governor of the great state of utah. in reflecting on those years, i have to say i never once invaded one of my surrounding states. came very close in the case of nevada from time to time, but all was well. and i want to thank all members of this committee. it's truly an honor to appear before you today as president trump's nominee to be the united states ambassador to the russian federation. i want to thank the president for his confidence in me and for this opportunity, with your approval, to represent the american people during what is as we all know is a critical period in u.s./russian relations. i want to express my gratitude to secretary of state rex tillerson for his support as
well. most important to all of this are the people who are sitting behind me, senator corker. thank you for pointing that out. a wonderful family. and i want to start by thanking my wife, mary kay, without whom we wouldn't be here today. and all of our children. six of seven are here. daughter marianne, who is here with husband evan morgan. daughter abbey, here with jeff livingston. i never called them deadbeat sons in law, mind you. they are the boast est in the w. our daughter liddy, here with eduardo hernandez. our son jon, otherwise known as lieutenant j.g. huntsman who is part of eaq 129. growler pilot here with his lovely wife morgan.
our son will, who is also a naval officer in the eod training pipeline is not with us, unfortunately. the training apparently is so strict he couldn't get a few hours off. we'll have to consult with the armed services committee on that one. our daughters gracie -- who has served the last couple of months as my foreign policy adviser and daughter asha, here as well. their love and support has absolutely sustained me through many phases of my life. and the different hats that i have had the pleasure of wearing both in public and private sectors. obviously we could not undertake this new challenge with your support without the complete endorsement of our family. i have had the privilege of serving as ambassador three times, including to china and to singapore. i am fully cognizant of the profound responsibilities a chief of mission must assume.
during my previous service including as governor of the great state of utah and in the private sector i have always prid prided myself on leading dynamic teams and achieving important goals by bringing individuals together from different backgrounds and points of view. if confirmed i look forward to working with colleagues from the state department and other u.s. government agencies to advance the interests of the american people. while i'm confident that my previous experience does prepare me for the sensitive diplomatic mission, i am under no illusion that serving as the u.s. ambassador to the russian federation will be easy or simple. our relationship with russia is among the most consequential and complex foreign policy challenges we face. as a nuclear superpower, a permanent member of the u.n. security council, we have no choice but to deal with russia on a range of issues touching on global stability and security. yet, we also need to recognize
that today, contrary to helsinki final act principles and international law, russia continues to threaten stability in europe, including by violating the sovereigncy and territorial integrity of its neighbors. russia also restricts the human rights of its own people. there is no question, underline no question, that the russia government interfered in the u.s. election last year and moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies. finally, russia is disregarding its arms control obligations and commitments. as we work to balance these multiple challenges, i appreciate the leadership and insight that this committee has demonstrated on russia. and if confirmed, i welcome the opportunity to collaborate with all of you in the months and years ahead. in short, if confirmed, i will focus on four primary approaches. first, i will engage russia government officials from the highest tiers to the local
levels to advance american interests. key among our goals are defeating isis, countering terrorism, upholding arms control and nonproliferation obligations and commitments, finding a political solution to the conflict in syria and resolving the crisis in ukraine in a way that respects ukraine's sovereignty and restores its territorial integrity. i will not hesitate to remind government officials that they are accountable for their actions. exhibit a is the fact that interference in the u.s. election has led directly to the current low level of trust in the relationship. the views of congress were heard loud and clear on this point with the unanimous passage as senator cardin mentioned of the countering through sanctions act. i'll work to protect the interests of the american people to include u.s. business, scholars, tourists and other
american visitors who spend time in russia and engage its good citizens. i believe people to people exchanges and private interactions are an important way to show that our disagreements are with the government of russia, not with its people. third, i will seek out russian people from across all walks of life to share perspectives, to relay american values and to deepen my long-held appreciation for russia's rich and fascinating culture. i have done previously i look forward to meeting with civil society leaders. while the russian government has sought to limit u.s. public dimcy our russian commitment against to engage ordinary russians and thought leaders and maintains a diverse outreach approach. i plan to take part in that effort as i strongly believe cultural understanding is enriched by an open and respectful exchange of ideas and thoughts. i look forward to meeting as
many russian citizens as possible during my travels throughout this great country. fourth, but certainly not last in importance, i will work to ensure the safety and security of my in importance, i will work to ensure the safety and security of my team, america's team, who worked tirelessly on behalf of our nation. despite russia's actions with dip pact staffing, the team, both the americans and russian staff, continues to serve with professionalism and unwavering commitment under difficult conditions. in particular i want to pay tribute to outgoing ambassador john teft, one of the foreign services finest for his dedicated leadership and courage under challenging times. i will be honored to work side by side with the mission team to ensure the continued critical work of the u.s. diplomatic and
consular mission. i want to extend my appreciation for those americans and russians that serve at the u.s. mission and have since left because our staff has been cut short by russian government's unfortunate decision. mr. chairman, mr. ranking member and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you. i welcome your comments and your questions. >> thank you very much. senator carden. >> governor, i must tell you, i listen to a lot of statements made by nominees. i thought your statement was as clear and direct on the major issues and i applaud you for that and i appreciate your candor with the committee and the manner in which you have presented the challenges you would have if confirmed as ambassador. i have to tell you our staff gives us series of areas to clarify on, provide clarity.
you've provided clarity but that won't prevent me asking questions anyway. let me move onto the human rights issues we talked about. our concern is not with the russian people. the russian people are good people that want basic freedom. our issue is with the government that's denied basic rights to its own citizens and interfered with the sovereignty of other countries. you mentioned that you would be meeting with leaders in the civil societies and be a platform for that type of discussion. how do you intend to use people to people contact between russians and americans in order to further the hopes. in answer to that question, when i meet with russians and i've met with a lot of russians and they really do look to the
united states as hope for their future, giving them an avenue to keep hope alive in russia. how do you intend to use the position as ambassador in our embassy in moscow to further those objectives? >> thank you for that question, senator cardin. i very much enjoy the conversation we were able to have in our office. for me the united states mission, whether the embassy or consulates, in this case three throughout russia, should be seen as beacons for hope, aspirations for the people as they were for chinese people when i served there. the term or title for ambassador, although it might get you in a couple of doors otherwise you might not get in should also be seen as aspirational and tied to u.s. values. i've worn this title before. i've seen when you actually express those values and go to
the aid of those who are under assault from their governments. they find there's hope in what america does and i found that to be, senator, our most powerful weapon at the end of the day. i hope to use it effectively, tactfully, tastefully. but there is one certainty and i will be out, and i will be active in promoting america's values as part of who i am. as part of my family, my upbringing and part of the american tradition. i'll never forget visiting one case in china. if you would allow me the reflection. a young woman who had been beaten because her home had been torn down by the chinese authorities, there was no petitions of government. there was no appeal process, it was just gone. she took up the issue herself and was beaten for it and paid a price. i went to visit her one day in her humble little apartment.
the ambassador's car driving through the back alleyways where an ambassador's car shouldn't be. i walked into her little room. she had been cut off from the internet and a lot of things. she had a tear in her eye. i know it was not because make huntsman arrived but rather because the united states had arrived. i could tell just by being with her, that meant the world, where nobody else would stand up. nobody else would stand behind people who didn't have that support locally. it meant the world. it's reflections like that i carry with me every day of my life and i'm reminded of the values we stand for, whether republican or democrat. i will ensure that our embassy and our missions shine that light in a way that is aspirational, that is positive, and that does represent the best of the united states. >> i can assure you, you have this committee that stands with you in the struggles. please feel comfortable in
working directly with us advancing those issues. i want to raise just one more issue to let you know we are deeply concerned about the security of our mission in russia. we know there have been efforts made to deal with the safety of our person in an appropriate way. there have been encouragement to listening devices in places to try to compromise the u.s. mission. so we invite your assessment, you mentioned the safety of your personnel. we want you to know that we hope that you'll be very candid with congress as to needs, so that we can work together to make sure those on the frontline of diplomacy had the protections they need. >> thank you, senator. the unfortunate decision by the russian government to cut our staff significantly will impact our ability to carry on anything representing a normal
relationship. although i have every confidence that those who remain, the 455, now that we've met what the russians have demanded to be a sense of parity, that they being among the best and brightest in the foreign service among departments and agencies will carry out the mission in a flawless way. i have no doubt about that. i've seen it happen before. for me as chief of mission, mission security and mission integrity will be top of the list with your support and endorsement. once i arrive at mission the first order of business is to assess what the cutbacks in personnel have meant in terms of overall security, because security has an impact on our ability due to the work and impact on overall operating moral of any embassy. i've seen them over the years when missions can operate at a high level of moral, things get done and the work of the american people get accomplished. so mission safety will be top of mind for me.
it always has been. i know we have some challenges particularly as it relates to some of the harassment of our diplomats, which unfortunately continues. >> thank you. senator flake. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you ambassador hupntsman. thanks to the family as well. we've had the opportunity to know the huntsmans as well. we lived near them in virginia in 1992 -- '90 to '92. my wife cheryl taught one of the girls piano. so anyway, it's a pleasure to be here and a pleasure to have you. i want to thank you for your willingness to serve and thank the family for their willingness to sacrifice for the just this time but many times in the past as well for your public service. it is a family sacrifice certainly and that is appreciated.
let me just say or ask one question. what can congress do to help you succeed in your mission on behalf of the united states in russia? >> thank you, senator flake. it's a pleasure to see you again. thank you for the musical legacy you left in my own family which continues to live on as our daughter marianne just returned from performing rothe concerto moscow. a far cry from what her dad can play. for me the opportunity to report and return on the key issues, whether they be ukraine, syria, dprk, arms control, human rights, magnitsky act, because i think we're all going to have to
be together. this is executive and legislative. with respect to the last round of sanctions, because you'll have a significant role in how that goes, you're then going to have to base your decisions on input from the ground from somebody on site. you'll get all the information you need to read. having somebody at post who can maybe help provide a different perspective will be important. just the very thought, senator, that we can work together going forward and maintain an open dialogue with you and your staffs on whether there's progress on these issues. if there's progress, we need to move the relationship to a bit of a higher altitude. right now we're at a low point. it reminds me a little of 1986, and i remember that year. we can't stay at the 1986 level forever. it doesn't serve the purposes of the region or world well. nor does it serve purpose of people in both countries. so working on those issues
together, allowing me a fair hearing when i return to report on progress so that we can see if, in fact, there's reason to move the relationship to a different level. i think that has to be done as a joint effort between executive and legislative branches. >> in terms of congressional travel to russia, delegations from the senate and house, is that helpful? >> i will just share one experience i had in china where very few travel because it was a tough gig, tough assignment. it was not easy to explain to your constituents why you had been to china. i brought forward to some of your colleagues the idea that maybe we could organize a bipartisan republicans and democrat codel, and they spent three days. johnny isaacson, senator isakson
was part of that. i discussed that with him. he still remembers that trip. three days. they were able to connect at the highest level of the united states some concerns around these issues in ways the chinese really understood and found in many ways. it left a lasting impression on both sides. i would say if we could organize such mission, bipartisan. we have a message to receive. i would welcome that opportunity as well. >> thank you. >> john, thank you so much. nobody has to convince me of your willingness to serve. i worked with you in china and helped us in idaho considerably. let me say one of the most confounding things for the american people is to understand in the position you're in in
russia, we have some issues with russia, which would be an understatement to say the least. having said that we have an understanding with russia. the biggest challenge we're facing is to muster them on the north korea fashion. we have to face north korea in a united fashion. it's going to take russia and china. they have indicated willingness to help. a lot of people think this can't end well on the trajectory it's on. we're going to need everybody together. do you have some thoughts on that as you move into this position. >> specific to dprk? >> specifically to dprk. >> this falls into the category, side of the balance sheet that represents issues where we have some overlapping and common interests. i think we should always take the time to explore where we have overlapping and common interest. one is dprk.
we take different approaches, and we have different attitudes about denuclearizing korean peninsula but ultimately we want greater safety in that region. i think both countries share real concerns around proliferation. that brings us together with russia for purposes of dprk. i think the last round of sanctions was an expression of the united nations security council coming together with the most progressive approach to north korea i think in history. that included russia and it included china. it's targeting areas of north korea's economy that i think are most lucrative for them. if the sanctions are actually implemented, and that will be part of our work once we're on the ground, it will take a toll on things like trade and textiles, which is maybe an $800 million category for north korea. trade in gas and oil, which is a
large product or large money category as well. and the remittances from workers in the case of russia may be 50 or 60,000, which is another cash flow item for north korea. i'm -- the last round of sanctions september 11th, a few weeks ago, we'll see if that isn't historic coming together more and more in addressing a significant threat not just to northeast asia but the world. >> thank you. appreciate your thoughts on that. we're all hopeful the sanctions will be helpful in that regard. certainly they are the strictest sanctions you can get. the difficulty, of course, is you have a regime that doesn't care much about the people they govern. so the question is, how effective are the sanctions going to be on leadership versus on the people. unfortunately they have shown in the past that the sanctions hasn't been a good conduct
changer, as it would be in other civilized nations. although we're hopeful, i think we have to think about what the next step is going to be. that's not going to be pretty, there's no question about that. well, thank you very much for coming. are there any further questions? i see none. >> i hope we didn't scare everyone away. >> we are just starting a vote on the floor of the senate, so i'm going to adjourn this hearing, excuse you and your beautiful family and those who have come here to hear this. again, we sincerely appreciate your willingness to serve. thank you very much. may the committee be at ease subject to the call of the chair.
huntsman to be ambassador to russia. the senate foreign relations committee will reconvene in a few moments. members are attending a series of votes in the senate. just a few moments here. while we wait for them to come back, we'll go to opening statements of this hearing. >> we'll defer to outstanding senators. it's an honor to have you here in our committee. we'll let them go first so they can go to their business so they can convene the business meeting and hopefully pass nominees out and bills out and resume with great testimony we know we'll hear from our nominees. so with that, again, we welcome y
you. i don't know if i can remember snort area. senator cornyn, we thank you for being back with another great texan. i don't remember senator lee or manchin next. i'll let you arm wrestle over that while senator cornyn gets his comments. thank you for being willing to come and make comments about outstanding nominees. yes, sir. >> thank you. thanks for holding the hearing. i'm here primarily to introduce wes mitchell. i have to comment on the great willingness of jon huntsman to serve his country again, this time in another peaceful, placid setting in moscow. wes mitchell secretary of state
for eurasian. he's a sixth generation texan. i'm confident he'll bring texas can do attitude to the state department. he's joined by his wife elizabeth and two children wesley and charlotte as well as other relatives. outside of being a texan, wes has made a name for himself as co-founder for the center for european policy analysis or cepa, which he created with larry hirsch for purposes of strengthening military ties between united states and europe. his nomination could not come at a more critical time. russia as we know is using military and cyber capabilities to intimidate and pressure western nations while terrorist groups infiltrate their people. as we sit here today russia is conducting the largest military operations in years, the baltics. also troubling, the news anti-aircraft to turkey in a clear attempt to try to drive a
wedge in our nato alliance. through his work at cepa, strong leadership and u.s. participation in nato. along with ambassador haley, he'll bring institutional brach ground and leadership to a region threatened by conventional and nonconventional forces. i recently had the chance to travel with some of our colleagues to the balkans and met with their leaders who unanimously russian influence and did he stabilizing refugee crisis in europe. as recent additions to nato family they look to the west for leadership, security and trade. i can't think of a better place for them to look, rather than to fall into the tender mercies of vladimir putin and the russian federation. wes created one of the largest nato brain trusts in the united states and i think is just the kind of person we need to send to europe to reassert u.s.
leadership following years of neglect. that's why i wholeheartedly support his nomination and encourage the committeed to the same. i look forward to working with him. secretary tillerson and the rest of the administration as we work to reestablish u.s. global leadership in the promotion of democratic values in the region. so thank you, chairman corker, and ranking member cardin for having me here today and the entire committee and i commend the nominee for your support. >> thank you. thank you very much. is it going to be senator manchin, looks like. >> i have one month seniority on senator lee. let me say what a pleasure it is to be here for you, mr. chairman and allowing me to come and truly in a bipartisan way. the person we're here to speak on behalf of is truly a bipartisan person wanting to get things done. i want to thank senator lee for being here also because i know they have been great friends. governor huntsman is a dear
friend of mine, personal friend of mine. governors have a bond, unlike most other bonds in political life. we have the same problems, same concerns for our cob stitt wentz and we try to share our successes we have and help each other not to repeat the same mistakes we've made. so it's a really unusual bond. but to mary kay his wife, gil and i and jon have done things together and enjoy being with each other and friends. they have six of their children with them today. they have four grandchildren and many more on the way, i'm sure, as we talk. but with that being said, jon has a resume that's unbelievable. and when you think about what john has done in the past, ambassador to both china and singapore, deputy united states trade representative, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for east asian affairs and deputy commercial for trade development, but john is known, mostly for his two terms as
governor of utah. and the people overwhelmingly have supported jon and endorsed and voted for him. jon left the state in such great shape financially. we had a lot in common when the crash happened continue 2007 and 2008. skron had compassion. i said this before, we have both gone through mining tragedies. the mining tragedies in the states were not just devastating to the families but all of us. i watched jon's compassion for each and every one of them, making sure it never repeated itself again. i've seen that. i worked with jon in a group called no labels. we were co-chairs of no labels, trying to bring people together in a bipartisan way, looking for a solution, not trying to exacerbate problems and weaknesses of both sides. i've watched jon. we have a troubled world we live in. at this time we are the greatest superpower, the only superpower in the world. but superpower means more than
having super military might, it means having super diplomatic might also. that's going to take a person with the skills unlike anything we've seen before. russia is a challenge to us. it's one we have to face and work with and try to find a pathway forward. there's only one person i know of, and truly i mean this from the bottom of my heart, that i believe can go to russia, try to find a pathway, open up a dialogue, find a pathway and find agreements we may have, disagreements we respect each other and move forward in a troubled world trying to keep less violent. i come here with great pleasure and the opportunity to say to my friend thank you for letting us step up and serve again. jon is a tremendous patriot and tremendous american but also a great friend and i appreciate him very much so. i encourage all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote unanimously for this outstanding nominee we have before us. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. thank you very much for being with us. we appreciate the comments. senator lee. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman.
i'm not going to repeat all of the resume items mentioned by senator manchin but i am definitely going to echo senator manchin's conclusion. i cannot imagine anyone as well qualified to take the post as u.s. ambassador to russia as my friend and former boss governor jon huntsman. i served as his general counsel while he was governor of the state of utah. needless to say i saw him in every imaginable circumstance as he worked through decisions. not every imaginable -- one could plausibly deal with as governor. in every circumstance, he had one objective, which was to serve the people, to find the right outcome, and to make sure that families throughout utah, particularly poor and middle class, were left in a better position than he found them, and he succeeded. there's no coincidence this man to my right became the most
popular governor in america at the time. i never met a member of that 10% group that didn't prove of him. i'm not sure they exist. the fact he was able to be policy reformer, governor of utah, while still remaining most popular governor in america is itself remarkable. what's remarkable, this is someone who served in every administration since the reagan administration. in addition to that he was tapped, of course, by president obama at the serve as the ambassador of china. one interesting side note here, i think it's worth mentioning separately he will have serve as u.s. ambassador for the world's most populous nation, china. it confirmed this position the
world's nation bearing the largest footprint. i think that is significant. in addition to this, he's served in a variety of capacities in corporate america as an executive in the huntsman chemical corporation. he serves on the board of ford motor corporation. then there is, of course, his most cherished and important position, that of being chairman of the board, i believe it is, or perhaps chief operating officer with mary kay serving as chief executive officer of the huntsman family. john and his wife mary kay have seven amazing children. that is no exaggeration here. i'd encourage each of you to get to know them. in short, this is someone who will represent the interest of the united states in every moment and every circumstance regardless of where you fall on the ideological spectrum, you will be pleased in the service this man will perform if he's confirmed as u.s. ambassador to
russia. >> those remarks from the start of the senate foreign relations committee to consider jon huntsman to be ambassador to russia. the committee is in a recess right now. it's unclear exactly when they will be back. for now they are in the senate chamber voting on u.s. solicitor general candidate. by the way, you can watch that vote on our companion network c-span 2 that is under way. when this hearing continues we'll continue our live coverage from the office building on capitol hill. while we wait for this to pick up again, we'll show you some remarks from some of the opening statements of the hearing from senators corker and hardin and the nominee himself, former utah governor jon huntsman. >> i want to thank everybody for their cooperation moving through that. it's very much appreciated. i'll give a brief opening statement and i'm sure mr. cardin will go the same. europe and eurasia are home to
closest partners and chal eggs. formed for the people of the west nato remains vital to the security of europe and the united states. european union is also a critical partner in trade, politics, global humanitarian efforts. additionally united states. oldest and best allies france and united kingdom are european countries. we look to the bureau of eurasian affairs to manage relationships with the united states, reasserts itself on the world stage. russia, russia's bad acts complicate much of the good that the united states tries to do. the russian federation possesses not only the second most powerful military in the world but also a seat on the united nations security council where its veto protects war criminals such as bashar assad. in the last several years russia has twice invade ukraine where it continues to illegal occupy crimea and aggravate the war.
vladimir putin entered this war on the side of the regime and has repeatedly used chemical weapons on civilians. last year russian efforts to influence 2016 u.s. election fundamentally damaged our bilateral relationship. if that weren't enough, russia in its violation of the intermediate range nuclear forces treaty, in violation and failing to meet its obligations under the treaty on open skies. on the other hand we have many issues of common interest and figuring out a way to move between these issues successfully is going to be a great challenge for our next ambassador. today's nominees will need to perform some of the most important diplomatic work that our country could require to preserve our interest throughout europe and guard against further russian aggression. we thank them for willingness to serve and welcome them to the committee today. senator cardin.
>> let me welcome both of our witnesses. it really is a pleasure to have the two nominees before us. i can't think of two more important positions that this committee will consider than the two positions we are considering today. they are that consequential. i have a chance to meet with both of our nominees and i found the discussions to be extremely helpful and very encouraging. as to the amount of the agreement as to the importance of the assignment and the manner in which our nominees will carry out that responsibility if confirmed. governor huntsman, it's a pleasure to have you back. you just can't seem to avoid the desire to serve the community, and we thank you for that. you're entitled to a little time off, but you seem to not want time off from public service. we thank you for your willingness. i particularly want to thank your family because this is a family commitment.
it will be interesting your observations as to whether russia was more challenging or less challenging than china. you have taken on the most difficult challenges in our country. you started with singapore, put utah in there someplace and started to go on. we thank you for that. as the chairman pointed out russia is really a challenged relationship that we have. they attacked us and our democracy 2016. they invade ukraine, still illegally occupy crimea, supporting the assad regime in syria. that is why congress passed the sanctions acagainst russia, to make it clear that type of behavior will not go unchallenged. we will look forward to you implementing that legislation. our goal toys change russia's
behavior, particularly as it reflects u.s. interests. it is not to have a chummy relationship with relationship without a change in behavior. yes, we always want to have constructive relationships with all countries. but for us to have that bond, we need to have a country that respects our independence and respects universal values. today russia has done neither. i hope for russia fighting for freedom and their country that it will be welcomed for civil society, which has been the tradition of the u.s. representation and mission. i appreciate your commitment to continue that tradition, and i hope there will be regular dialogues sponsored by the united states on human rights. boris nemtsov, the slain
activist leader called it the legislation enacted. we'll looking to you to implement that russian legislation known as the magnitsky act. we thank you for your willingness to serve. to mr. mitchell -- there you are. thank you for your willingness to serve. i also acknowledge your family as a family sacrifice. i can't think of a more important region of the world. the transatlantic partnership is critical important to united states and our security and defense of our democratic values. we're stronger when we're united with europe. we saw that with iran, the sanctions were applied with europe's support. we were able to get iran's attention before that -- >> and we'll leave this testimony from earlier today to return to live coverage of the senate foreign relations hearing. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. first of all, i would like to
thank governor huntsman for his willingness to continue to serve the country, also for taking a few minutes to meet with me. i very much appreciated our conversation. i know that one of the things we discussed a little bit was the challenges given russia's attempt to limit elections in 2016, occupation of ukraine, annexation of crimea, some of the other challenges facing russian aggression in the baltics and eastern europe and the need to counter those efforts and at the same time the need to look at places where we can work with russia because we have mutual interest. so can you talk about how as ambassador you will try and balance those two needs and the
kinds of efforts that you think are helpful in responding to russian aggression versus temperature kinds of efforts that you would employ to try and engage with them on areas of mutual interest. >> jon, if you would put your microphone on. there we go. >> thank you, senator sheehan, it was a pleasure recently to see you. i think we have to convince russia both blatt really and multi-laterally throu-- bilater and multi-laterally through friends and allies that aggression doesn't pay. we've seen that in the case of crimea 2014, the case of ukraine in the eastern provinces. we don't need to go back in
georgia. so we've got the challenges of the constant pushing that is taking place in europe. we have friends and allies in europe who we support and whose sovereignty we stand behind from a security standpoint. i think we have to live up and respect those commitments, which i think is the case. we have that going on at the same time we have areas of overlapping and common interest. i think as with any challenging relationship, and i would say if the case of russia it's a challenging but necessary relationship. we have to be at the table together. we have to find common ground. we have to solve problems. we have to move to a higher altitude. no question about it. part of that effort is to show
we can succeed in what we do together. there may be early signs of success, for example, in syria, with the attempt to disarm and quiet the southwestern region just south of damascus. it's still early days but there may be some successes from there. i think dprk is another area we can find there are successes. in the case of ukraine, we are nowhere. i would have to say that a lot of -- the main hyper that leads to an improvement in u.s.-russia relations i think goes right through ukraine. and that is living up and respecting the minsk accord. it's an incredibly important issue not just for ukraine but
people here in the united states. that will be an important area. we have issues such as space, for example, it must be the level of oxygen at that level. maybe no oxygen at all that keeps us together in a collaborative fashion. this has been a great success between the united states and russia. the arctic, for example, lies out there is another issue i think we're going to have to come together on. maybe in ways that are positive. so i see the balance sheet. i see the need to come up with a very clear and crisp list of priorities that we can meet on, hopefully make some progress on and i can return to you and report on. >> thank you. ambassador, can you talk about whether you're going to be willing to meet with opposition figures in russia and dissidents who may not agree with the puth
reign? >> that has always been my practice at every other post i managed and it will continue to be my practice. yes, senator. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator. >> thank you. ambassador, governor pence, i really just wanted to come back to this restarted hearing to compliment you as one of the very highest quality nominees for ambassadorial post i've seen in my seven years on the senate relations committee. in our personal meeting and your opening statement, i think you represent the very best of public service and leadership at home and abroad. you have answered clearly forcefully and directly a whole series of questions i had for you whether about your willingness to meet with opposition figures, standing up for human rights, value of our western european allies and others. to you, mary kay and your beautiful dedication, thank you
for your service. let me ask two or three questions but i look forward to supporting your nomination in any event. how do you think we could more successfully counter russian disinformation campaigns in western europe? as we talked about in my office, our core challenge here is raising the cost for russia of their continued interference and continued illegal actions in ukraine and in other places in the world. and do you think it is critical that we maintain sanctions on russia until they end their destabilizing actions in ukraine and end meddling in european elections or could you imagine a path where we would lighten some sanctions and not others. obviously given the action of this committee we would have a decision and hand on that front. >> senator, thank you very much for those warm comments you previously made. i think ukraine becomes very much a centerpiece here when we look at sanctions.
we have maybe five rungs of sanctions when you count the magnitsky act as well. i think the barometer on where it goes will be based on ukraine and the kind of success we have in the area. some as a result of ukraine, meddling in our election, some tied to magnitsky and more human rights focused, i really do see the ukraine issue as important, make progress in our bilateral relationship. with respect to hybrid warfare we're seeing which includes activity that goes beyond conventional warfare my generation was accustomed to as
was yours growing up where you put equipment on the field and practice and train and hopefully never have to go to war. from what we see today, which is very different and includes disinformation campaigns, networks that are dedicated to the dissemination of news, of different sources, where we see the support of political movements on the extreme end, for example. all kind of in the category of malign activities that are now focused on europe and specifically the periphery just adjacent to russia's western border. i think the first order of business, senator, is to recognize that it does exist and not to be delusional about it. then to say what is the nature of this hybrid campaign. what toll or what cost is it taking on the very survivability
of making a nascent democracy. that's the target to undercut the credibility of the political system, which is the most nefarious approach one can take to another nation state. then i think we have to stay what are the options in terms of the tools that one might have. there may be some options on the technology side with the private sector that would be worth looking at. i think we always ought to be exploring private sector technology approaches. then i think the work you were doing with others, including senator murphy on really funding some efforts that would produce a counter-narrative is really important. i know it may seem to be a drop in the bucket as compared to what we're up against but it is a start. i think that's important to begin to work our way through what ultimately a longer-term solution might look like. >> i appreciate in your written
statement and opening statement and in our private conversation the clarity and forcefulness of your view about russia's malign actions in our election, in the region, against our alliances in western europe. the ongoing threat to human rights at home and around the world and your commitment to join with us to advance american values in this context. i very much look forward to working with you. thank you. >> thank you. senator murphy. >> thank you, chairman. i appreciate name dropping. >> pandering in politics. >> it will get you everywhere. >> thank you very much, governor, for taking on this responsibility. i really ep joyed the conversation we had and i do appreciate your commitment to global engagement center. senator portman and i are pleased with the administration after they have set up the
capacity for young nations to build an objective media and i think you will be instrumental helping figure out how that plays out going forward. with that being said, let me ask a little thornier question here. i really appreciated your clear statement regarding russian interference in the u.s. election, but i want to put the sort of elephant out on the table here. you're going to be working for a president who has done the opposite, who is very intentionally over and over again cast doubt on whether the russians interfered in this election. he said it's all a big dem hoax, all a big dem scam. when he was in poland earlier this year, he said it could have been russia but it could have been a lot of other people. the results are real. the latest poll suggests 43% of americans don't believe that
russia interfered in the u.s. election. you know, importantly, only about 9% of republicans believe that russia interfered. and so just let me ask you that, because everybody is wondering. how do you represent to the russians your belief that -- and all of our belief that they unquestionably interfered in the u.s. election when your boss, the president of the united states, is engaged in a fairly intentional campaign to at the very least cloud the issue. how do you manage that? >> it's a fair question, senator. it's important to note the odni has spoken, through director of national intelligence. it's a powerful symbol when you get the director of national intelligence, the director of the cia, the head of the nsa, the head of the fbi who come together in unison behind their findings as a consumer their
material for some years they very rarely come together in such a coordinated fashion of one mind and one conclusion. so i think that expresses where the facts are with respect to russia's involvement in our election. but i have to say for me as a former governor, as conference cain was, you're tasked with the integrity of your tlex system. sometimes lieutenant governor pence, sometimes secretary of state, you have nothing more than the integrity of your election process. at the localist of levels. and to work to undercut or subvert or sew seeds of doubt or distrust about that system is the highest level of injury that i think can be laid on any local election system. i will speak to it not just as
u.s. ambassador to russia but also somebody who had responsibility for the integrity of elections in my state. >> i thank you for that answer. i just don't want taos normalize this moment. i think your job will be made very difficult by the fact you will put pressure on russians to stop interfering in our elections and others while you have president of the united states trying to actively, actively trying to cloud this question and often yoog uses his personal communication device to call it a hoax. i don't want to normalize what is happening today where our diplomats are towing one line and the from the a different one on his twitter feed. your capacity is made uniquely hard in a very unprecedented way. in the last 30 seconds get a commitment from you to follow up on something we talked about in our office. senator shaheen and cardin, we
talk built baltics a lot here but not a lot of other people do globally. this is where wars have started. it's a place that remains very unstable. in the last six mondays since this president took office and signaled we were sort of exiting the diplomatic playing field, russia has gone into the balkans gang buster, buying up media sources, paying off new and interesting people. i just wanted to have you reiterate your commitment amongst all of the things you're going to be paying attention to in moscow to make sure to keep an eye on for us russian interference in the balkans. a very destable place that could be more unstable if we don't check that interference. >> you have my commitment, senator. the balkans is an example of
what we have described earlier specifically when you point to serbia and kosovo. when we leave a vacuum behind, things happen. i think it's an example of what has happened in that vacuum. i've watched it, will take note of it, and it will certainly be part of the discussions. >> thank you. senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. governor pence, welcome. you are superbly qualified for this position. i look forward to supporting your nomination. very tough job. i'm very glad the president asked you to do it. so i was involved in circumstances talked about. i'll switch and tell you about an interesting irony. while i was a candidate in an election that's been much discussed for these reasons, my son was deployed in the european reassurance initiative, his
entire battalion to help reassure that we would protect with russia. i'm going to ask and follow up with the other nominee with similar questions, in your capacity as ambassador of russia, should you be confirmed, you'll also have the opportunity to dialogue with other european nations, ambassadors in russia. i think an important part of your job is going to be working as you can with the russian government to make sure that we advance and protect nations on their border that are currently under serious assault in many demands in russia. i wonder if you could address that aspect of how you might approach that aspect of your job. >> my approach, senator, will be to work with our friend and allies in europe. specifically the g5, dedicated to the issues prominently on our
security agenda. we all know the vulnerable states are right on the periphery. they need the help and support that nato, and specifically the united states can provide. i think we're better and stronger when we're coordinating with those who are regionally focused, on the ground and maybe a slightly different perspective. i learned this serving in china and working with the g5 in our contexts including north korea, including south china sea. i would fully expect to consult on a regular basis with my g5 colleagues to make sure we are plugged into the work of the supreme allied commander in europe, general scaparrotti along with nato command as well. i very much want to make visits to both those areas to ensure we are all of one mind as it relates to, for example, understanding the last training exercise that is playing out in belarus, even as we sit here,
that will go on through september 20th. i'm not sure they have invoked vienna documents required as far as transparency is concerned. it may be they should have. nobody knows the numbers of troops involved or exactly how this is likely to play out. that's not good. that does not serve the interest of security and stability in europe. so i think we're together on the issues that will matter most. i look forward to working with our friends and allies on these very issues. >> you also will have a very unique perspective having been ambassador to china, both being critical nations and both nation with respect we have many points of disagreements but there are areas where we need to work together. for example, we had a briefing recently. though it was classified, this portion wasn't. it was about north korea and the trump administration national security officials said over and over again, we are pursuing diplomacy if we can. if it's a 10% chance or 5% chance or 3% chance, we need to
pursue diplomacy and a diplomatic resolution with north korea. i assume your share that view. would you share my view pursuing diplomatic resolution with north korea would likely involve having russia and china involved in those discussions. >> russia and china were both, of course, original members of the six-party talks, discussions that i participated in while in beijing. they are both critical members of that process. china, of course, is absolutely indispensable in terms of delivering messages and controlling the flow of goods in and out of north korea. they have influence and clout that no other nation state has in pyongyang. i think second to that would be moscow. therefore the dialogue with russia on dp rchl rk, denuclearization, calming the region down is critical. to think we're able to get united nations security council
resolution on september 11. >> without a veto. >> without a veto. >> that speaks to nailing textiles and apparel, an $800 million category, gas and oil, remittances of 50 to 60,000 north koreans in russia, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. these are big deals. for us it really comes down to are the sanctions going to be implemented. that's where we've had difficulties in the past. will china do what they signed up to do. will russia do what they signed up to do. that's where you roll up your sleeves and get to work. >> may i ask one plor question or do i need to wait for the second round? >> please be brief. we have to wrap up. >> gubernatorial privilege. >> i'll be brief. >> we'll have questions for the record. >> i'll be very brief. having acknowledged that china and russia would be critical, if there was an ability to find a nuclear deal of some kind with north korea, you would also agree with me, would you not,
that their belief about whether or not the u.s. with follow a deal, if we reached it, that could be important to them in determining how much they wanted to work with us to press for a deal. >> well, obviously there are trust issuesright. >> and they constantly have to be worked on to shore up the trust deficit. the deployment of thaad most recently is causing consternation with both china and russia. but we have worked together successfully in the six-party context. i have seen examples where three of us can in fact take on an issue, share information, work from a common sheet, a common playbook, and try to get things done. >> thanks for your continued willingness to serve. >> thank you. >> governor, ambassador, thank you so much for taking this big responsibility on. thank you for -- to your family who are also willing to undertake the sacrifices. >> mr. chairman, i want to thank the governor also, and just one thing that senator kaine said,
enforcement of the sanctions, north korea, very important. enforcement of the sanctions against russia, very important. so we're going to need your help in enforcing the sanctions. we're already seeing in regards to the sale with turkey that the sanctions may be in fact being violated. so we're going to need your attentions if we're going to be effective in the messaging and action against russia. >> tough balancing act. >> thank you. >> for members of the committee, we will keep the record open until the close of business on thursday. that includes members' ability to submit questions for the record. so again, thank you so much. and you and your family are free to go. thank you. would you care to join us?
>> mr. mitchell, thank you so much for joining us. you're the position that you have been nominated for is certainly an important position. and i apologize for our time today. we're going to be on a bit of a short string since we have a vote that starts shortly after noon. so instead of making an opening statement, i don't want to preach on about europe and how important it is to us, but i'm going to pass on that and get to your opening statement. >> i already commented earlier. let me get right to the witness. >> thank you. mr. mitchell, the floor is yours. >> thank you, senator risch. let me also say how much i appreciated senator cornyn from my home state of texas giving me
a warm introduction and i'm honored to have his backing. chairman corker, ranking member cardin, members of the committee, it's a real privilege to appear before you as nominee for the position of assistant secretary of state for european and eurasian affairs. i'm thankful to president trump and secretary tillerson for the confidence they have placed in me to undertake this important role. i'm proud to have here with me today a support battalion, my family members, my wife elizabeth, our children wesley and charlotte, i think, are terrorizing folks in the hall way, so i apologize to anyone who has experienced that today. my mom, beth mitchell, my aunt cindy harris, and my father and mother-in-law, ed and cindy. i'm a sixth generation texan. the first person in my family in more than 150 years to pursue a career north of the red river. like my wife, who is a 13-year veteran of the department of defense, i came to washington to serve my country. 12 years ago, i cofounded the center for european policy
analysis, a think tank that is widely recognized for its quality of research and analysis on central europe. as president and ceo, i have overseen the growth to a truly trance atlantic organization, and personnel in certain european countries. i have built close and effective lead partnerships with leaders, had the honor of working with previous assistant secretaries and seen the skill of the men and women of the bureau of european and eurasian affairs and worked closely with many of you and your staffs on this committee on some of the most important recent pieces of legislation affecting america's relations with europe and russia. what animates my work is the belief that america's alliances are the backbone of our strength of the great power. 70 years ago, americans help to create a new western order, grounded in atlantic cooperation. they did so because they understood that america has an enduring strategic interest in removing what an earlier
generation of u.s. policymakers called the fire trap of geopolitics in the westernlands of eurasia. that region was the birth place of three global wars in the 20th century. two hot and one cold. the alliance we built after 1945 and extended -- expanded after 1989 laid the foundation for unprecedented freedom, stability, and prosperity in much of the world. as president trump said in warsaw, there is nothing like this community of nations. we must have the courage and desire to preserve it. if confirmed i will view as my central task the preservation and strengthening of the western alliance to make sure my young children are able to enjoy the benefits of peace and abundance we have known in our lifetimes. if confirmed, my first priority will be to give weight and substance to the affirmation of america's commitment to article five of nato. front line states must know that the defense of the west rests on an unwavering commitment and
covenant. to be credible, it requires a strong forward posture and willingness by all allies including the largest and wealthier europeans to bear their fair share in defense spending. the fight against isis must also be an urgent priority. we need all allies to assist in defeating isis, to share information on terrorist threats and address the sources of migration and extremism in north africa. we must work closely with europe on syria, iran, and north korea, and rally support for the new u.s. strategy in sfaafghanistan and we must work to keep turkey firmly anchored in the trans-atlantic community. in both the east and south, we must be sober minded about russia. it's in the interest of the american and russian people to lower tensions between the world's two largest nuclear powers. at the same time, the russian government must understand a return to normal relations will be impossible as long as it atakes its neighbors, abuses its people, and undermines the confidence in american
institutions and our allies. i will urge them to end their support for hostile regimes in syria and iran. america is greatest when our alliances are strong and our trade is vibrant. i will work to strengthen the trans-atlantic economy that gives jobs to millions of americans. i will build on the administration's efforts to help europe enhance energy security, and highlight the viability of american l & g as an aungz for these efforts. we must be clear about what we stand for as an alliance. the glue that holds us together is greater than a treaty or a set of institutional rules. it is the glue of a common civilization, the west, grounded in freedom, democracy, and rule of law. and united by bonds of culture and shared sacrifice. as secretary tillerson said, american leadership requires moral clarity. we're strongest when our values and those of our allies are aligned and when we hold our rivals accountable for human abuses at home. i will use the relationships i
forged in europe in the state department and here on capitol hill to advance values in europe and use the skills i gained to recognize tillerson's vision of making every dollar count for the american taxpayer. i'm humbled to be considered for this position. thank you for the opportunity to be here. i welcome your questions and comments. >> thank you very much, mr. mitchell. senator cardin. >> mr. mitchell, welcome. again, as i told you, i very much appreciate your willingness to serve our country. the obama administration takes pride that they were able to get europe to have consistent sanctions against iran that the united states initially brought forward. and they have right to have that pride because that was the effective leverage on iran to get them to sit down and negotiate. no question about it. i want to take you back a little bit in history in this committee when congress passed the enhanced sanctions against iran.
the administration was not quite as excited as we were taking up that sanction legislation because it took away some of the flexibility that any administration likes to have. after it passed, they recognized that it gave them additional strength in dealing with our european partners to get tough sanctions against iran that ultimately led to negotiations. my point is with russia, we're in a very similar situation. this congress has spoken with a very, very strong voice. 98-2 in the united states senate. these are tough sanctions. and it gives the president a much stronger hand. but he's got to play the hand. you're going to be the key person in the administration working with our european partners to get consistency in the sanctions imposed by the
united states and europe against russia, so they know that the impact on their economy will be much stronger if they don't change course in their behavior against europe and the united states. do we have your commitment that you're going to carry out not only the law but carry out with enthusiasm these tools that are available to get europe consistent with the united states in imposing additional sanctions against europe? >> thank you for that question, senator. i enjoyed the time we had together, and i want to thank you for your leadership, particularly on human rights issues and the helsinki commission. the countering american rival through sanctions act as you say, this was a 98-2 vote. and reflected the will of the american people. i think the secretary has been clear he views it in that light. and president trump said in warsaw of russia, this is a country that tests our will, undermines our confidence, and challenges our interests.
if i'm confirmed, you have my commitment to executing and implementing the terms of this legislation as it was intended. obviously, in close coordination with the secretary. >> and i thank you for the answer. but i want you to go further than that. i want you to work with your pe european allies so they have consistent sanctions. one of the things we frequently hear about is if we don't get the same thing with north korea, if we don't get consistency on sanctions, you can drive a truck through the economic penalties. so we need europe, which is closer with russia on economic activity to follow u.s. leadership. that's where i need your help. i shouldn't say i need your help. this country needs your commitment. >> let me say i agree fundamentally that our sanctions are most effective when we have unity with the europeans. i think in recent years we have seen through both republican and democratic administrations a
recognition that the utility of our sanctions increases in direct proportion to the scale of our diplomatic engagement with european allies. the tools that congress has made available are very important tools for raising the cost vis-a-vis the russian government. i think a clear message has been sent through that legislation. i take your point and i particularly want to emphasize the role that u.s. diplomacy will play with our allies in addressing the concerns that have been raised specifically about section 232, involving european energy infrastructure and also section 231 on defense contracts. i think these are immediate sources of concern where u.s. diplomacy will need to be very focused on working closely with our yeeuropean allies to help tm understand the nature of the legislation, and as the legislation explicitly states, to be effective, we need this to be coordinated with our allies. if confirmed, that will be my approach.
>> of course, we made concessions in both of those areas to deal with the european concerns. the european ministers were in our office, senator corker and my office, asking for modifications which we put into the bill to take care of their concerns. they may very well be saying something differently to a different audience, but there is clearly an effort made for that to happen. in reviewing the legislation, we found areas where europe in some cases had stronger sanctions than the united states. we toughened our sanctions to equal europe. i still tell you that you're going to hear accounts, we can't do this, we can't do this. then after we all do it, they take credit for saying we finally got unity and we are making a difference. it takes leadership. it takes leadership to make this work. the stakes could never be higher in what russia is doing today. you're going to be the key person because you're going to get -- you're going to be the conduit to all of the different
embassies in europe. and you're going to have ambassadors who are not going to want to be bothered with another thing on their plate, and yet i don't know of a higher priority than what russia is doing against our interests in getting an effective way for our sanctions to work. my last point would be, we expect you to work very closely with this committee on this issue. this is not a partisan issue, as you know. this is clearly an overwhelming support. we need your commitment that you'll work with us and keep us informed as to the progress we're making with europe and the sanctions against russia. and last point i would ask is that you mentioned the helsinki commission. on behalf of senator wicker, it's the regional commission nat is directly involved in your portfolio, we would ask you cooperate with the helsinki commission. you have representation there, but that you would work with the helsinki commission on those issues. i would ask that you work with our committee and work with the helsinki commission.
>> i take that to heart, and let me say that i have worked a lot with folks on this committee in the past and their staff. i have also spent time with some of my predecessors in this post, understanding how that approach congress and you can expect to see if i'm confirmed my full engagement. >> thank you. >> thank you. senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. mitchell, congratulations on your nomination. and thank you for your willingness to consider service in this post. and i appreciate the time that you spent with me talking about the challenges facing our international diplomatic efforts. and the state department itself. you know, you will have a large public diplomacy shop and the office is charged with implementing russian policies, as you have testified to. and including our efforts to counter russian disinformation. how do you expect the european
bureau to work with the newly constituted global engagement center to address those -- the disinformation that is coming from russia? >> well, thank you, senator, for that question. and i appreciated having the opportunity to spend time with you recently. i want to thank you for the leadership you have shown on some many issues thereat close to our heart and the work we have done and your work on the subcommittee, specifically on the state department. we have to start by recognizing that in the field of disinformation, the russian government takes a whole of government approach. it's overtand covert activities, maligned influence, both among european allies and also in the united states. seepa and our work was -- i would like to say we were a pioneer in calling attention both to the types of methods, strategies for addressing them, and the scale of the detriment this can be to the west. we also helped with engaging with some of the offices here as the legislation on the gec
process was being crafted, we provided briefings from our analysts and fellows from both here and those we have in the region. and we have worked very closely with nato strat-com to understand the approach they're taking and with the new hybrid fusion sell the european union is setting up. i would simply say that for us to be effective in the disinformation space, we have to have a whole of government approach. and i think what the legislation provides that senators portman and murphy have put forward is a basis for that, for synchronizing our efforts. if i'm confirmed, i will work very closely to insure that the bureau of european and eurasian affairs works closely with the gec as it turns its focus more to russia. >> do you think we have a whole of government prooapproach at t point? >> i think we have an awareness we didn't have in the past. we also learned a lot in the last few years, including our
allies pioneering areas we can expand. we're moving toward a whole of government approach, but there's no shortage for that tool and capacity that prompts coordination. and i think that my understanding of the mandate given to the gec and its resources is that it provides that instrument. >> and do you thing it's currently doing that? >> my understanding of the gec and its current role until this mandate was put forward and the resources were put forward is that it's doing very good work, including on areas other than russia. i think it looks at isis and other parts of the globe, but i think the new direction and the new resources will increase its capacity to do that more effectively. >> so we had a hearing last week in the helsinki commission on this very issue. on disinformation. and it focused mostly on russia, but also on the challenge that presents to america, the fact that we have a lot of people who really don't question the
accuracy of media reports, who get news from social media, which may not provide a filter for how accurate that news is. and we have talked about the issue of who's in charge, and the consensus of the people who testified there is that we don't currently have someone in charge of heading up these efforts. so not only do we not have a whole of government approach, we don't have somebody charged with doing this. and we don't have somebody currently named to do that. so i guess i would ask, do you agree with that, and who should take that role? i have had a chance to ask on the armed services committee members of our military whether this is something that they should have a hand in. they used to. russia has just set up a new unit in their military that has -- is responsible for
information and cyber information. so what i was told is that that's not the role of the military. as you know, after the cold war, we disbanded the u.s. information agency and so much of the apparatus that was designed to counter disinformation. so from your perspective, what's the role of the state department? who should lead this effort, and how do we get to that whole of government approach? >> well, i think that's a very important question. i think we have allies both at the nato level at the nation state level and at the eu level who are grappling with similar questions. in part because as plurallistic societies who value an open media discussion, we have to balance security and privacy. so i don't think that we're unique or alone in realizing the magnitude of this problem and seeking to understand how to use our tools. even before the new direction in legislation on gec, the bureau of european and eurasian affairs
has been active on this issue, providing resources for media training in countries of central and eastern europe, working to increase cyber defenses in the period since the interference in the election. i would say that what, moving forward, what's important is that now that it's been made clear that the global engagement center will have this as an invigorated mandate, that as the resources come into place and leadership comes into place for gec, i think coordination within the department obviously with the bureau, because of the vast reservoir of expertise on the situation on the ground, which i think will be indispensable for the gec to do its job well, but also in the interagency process. beyond that, not being privy to where the administration wants to take that specific set of issues, i wouldn't want to speculate further, but i will say that i strongly support the new direction of the gec and would be committed if i'm confirmed to insuring its close
coordination with the bureau. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. mitchell, for your willingness to serve. thank your family. i thank your family as well for your willingness to support mr. mitchell in his service. let me ask you two questions, if i might. first, i haven't had a chance to review all of president trump's remarks today at the united nations, but i understand he continued to express opposition to the iran deal, the jcpoa, something that took a great deal of work and coordination to pull together, both our european allies and our partners in that deal, but adversaries and other means, russia and china, and to provide some constraint for iran's nuclear ambitions. are you concerned that if president trump fails to certify iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, absent any credible evidence of iranian cheating within the four corners of the deal, that that will deeply strain our relations with our european partners?
and if we do so, they will then refuse to agree to these sanctions provided for in the jcpoa, and it will be even harder for us to craft a meaningful sanctions regime to force korea to back off its nuclear ambitions. >> it's a crucial question and issue. the administration is currently undertaking a review of not only jcpoa but our broader approach to iran. i haven't seen the latest comments that were made in new york. but i do know that secretary tillerson has been clear that what we want to take account of is the broader array of iranian activities, including its ballistic missile program, its support for terrorists in the region, and i think that bigger picture gives us a better sense of where the iranians are at than just the terms of the jcpoa. my understanding is that a review is under way. that while that review is under way, we are emphasizing the
strict implementation of jcpoa. obvio obviously, whatever direction things take with iran, unity with our european allies will be absolutely crucial. and i do know that there are possible points of daylight between the united states and some of our allies in europe on the future of jcpoa. i can't speculate on tdirection that the administration's review of this will take, but i can assure you if i'm confirmed, it will be a high priority to make sure we have a high degree of coordination with our european allies and with the european union in insuring the effectiveness both of the jcpoa and the broader iranian strategy. >> you said in your opening statement that we must work to keep turkey along the linchpin of the flank firmly anchored in the trans-atlantic community. that will be a challenging task. how would you recommend we proceed in retaining some relationship with turkey given all the different tensions that have really led to a significant
deg rogation in our relationshi with turkey? >> i will start by saying turkey is an absolutely indispensable nato ally of the united states. i don't think there's a country in the region or in nato that could provide for u.s. national security what turkey is currently providing, not only in supporting our efforts, the efforts to defeat isis, but in the broader regional strategic equation vis-a-vis syria, iraq, afghanistan, iran, the black sea, the relationship with russia. so at the strategic level, i think it's absolutely critical that we sustain engagement with the turkish government. at the same time, in the period since the attempted coup, the department has raised very sincere concerns about the state of rule of law, human rights, and religious minority issues inside turkey, and there have been developments that are very concerning. i think we have to balance our
approach in continuing to work closely with the turks as a strategic partner in the region. but i don't think we should be shy about raising our concerns in these areas and i think if i'm confirmed, in coordination with the secretary, my approach would be to emphasize the common interests that we have in expanding our strategic enga engagement but in an appropriate manner to raise those concerns, to look for ways to work with turkish civil society, to expand our people to people contacts. there's a lot more to be done in those areas. >> i believe we're safest and strongest when we lead with our values. our values don't always make our allies happy because they often don't share them, but i think an analysis of our interests has to include our values particularly with regards to human rights and open societies. so thank you for that answer. i look forward to working with you. >> thank you. >> thank you. senator murphy. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman.
good to see you, mr. mitchell. thank you for stepping up and being willing to serve. i look forward to supporting your nomination when it comes before the united states senate. and working very closely with you as the ranking member on the subcommittee on europe. but as i did with secretary -- excuse me, with governor huntsman, i want to just acknowledge some underlying realities with you for a moment and get your take on them. this administration has opened up a pretty open war with the idea, concept, and funding for diplomacies, budget proposed a 40% reduction in funding for the state department. the hiring freeze seems to apply to only one agency today, which is the state department. there's been a ban or at least a slowdown on promotions and lateral transfers within the agency. you're going to be asked for
your counsel by the secretary and perhaps by the president as to whether to once again re-up or request for a 40% reduction in funding, whether to continue the hiring freeze, and whether to slow down transfers and promotions. can you just share with us what your advice will be when asked upon as to whether to continue these policies that many of us see as leading to an evisceration of diplomacy abroad? >> well, thank you for that question. senator murphy, and i also want to express my gratitude for the meeting that we had and the years of cooperation that we've had with your office and your leadership on so many issues that are close to our heart. the secretary has been clear that he wants to see a better alignment of american priorities and resources at the state department. my understanding of the redesign is it recently completed its second phase. this was an employee-led process. secretary tillerson has experience in the private sector
with large-scale redesign of organizations. and my understanding is the targeted areas in this process are areas where the secretary would like to see greater efficiency. i have not been privy to those discussions. i know that the secretary has said as it relates to the bury of european and eurasian affairs, he would like to see a priority in those parts of europe that have been under pressure or duress or malign influence from the russian federation, and those parts of europe we're working most cle closely with to defeat isis. i think those priorities are correct. i don't know what direction or final form the budget discussion will take. if i'm confirmed, i will make best and highest use of the resources at my disposal. i certainly agree with the priorities that the secretary has outlined, and i think in some of these areas it's not a moment when we want to decelerate. so i have a lot of respect for the talented people in the
bureau. i would like to, if confirmed, get my feet on the ground, have a listening tour, talk to people in the bureau, understand their priorities and concerns, and until i have done that, i wouldn't be willing to speculate. >> you don't have much respect, i have for you and how enthusiastic i am for your willingness to take this position. just with all due respect, it is not an employee-driven redesign. it's a down driven design. i would be challenged to find a single employee who thinks these policies are the best for the state department. but you'll have something to do with that. you'll be able to make sure that the people under you have something to do with this, but that is not what is happening right now. one last question on trade policy. we spend a lot of time in this committee over the past four years talking about a trade agreement, a bilateral trade agreement with the european union. i heard the trade representative say the other day that that, you know, is essentially on hold, as
we all knew, but the danger is it's going to be substituted by replacement bilateral trade agreements. in particular one that the president has floated with england, with the united kingdom. as you know, that would -- that would help the fragmentation of europe. that would be a big win for those that want europe to fall apart, the idea that the u.s. will not do a deal with the eu and instead will pursue deals with countries that withdraw from the eu. what is our current position? are you going to be asked to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with great britain? should they withdraw or are you going to be asked to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with the european union? >> this is obviously a very important issue, and i have been on the record in the past strongly in support of a robust trans-atlantic trade agenda, of
ttp. the relationship that we have with the united kingdom is a very old and special relationship. this is a relationship that in strategic terms is vital to us, but also comeconomically, the united kingdom is our largest source of foreign investment, conduit of a major source of trade with europe, and our priority is to insure an amicable divorce. and our goal is to see we end the process of brexit with a strong strategic and economic relationship with the eu and with the uk. president trump has been clear that he wants to see a vibrant bilateral trade agreement with the united kingdom. my understanding is that we are in informal talks. the scoping exercises that are under way with the u.s. and uk trade and investment working group, i think we have to strike a balance here between allowing the u.s. -- i'm sorry, allowing the eu and uk to flesh out the substance of their own deal, not least because whatever
arrangements we come to with the british will be contingent on the deal, but also sending a signal to american businesses and to the british as our allies that there is a process under way for establishing some groundwork or principles for the deal that would eventually be done between the united states and uk. the lead on this is obviously ustr. if i'm confirmed, i look forward to working with the folks at ustr and other relevant agencies to make sure we end this process with a strong relationship with the eu and uk. >> i think that would be an enormous strategic mistake if europe is to disintegrate, the defeat will lie at the feet of this administration if it pursues a bilateral agreement with great britain at the expense of a trade agreement with the european union. i would hope you would counsel against it. thank you. >> thank you, senator. mr. mitchell, thank you again for your willingness to serve, and thank you for your family for the sacrifice, i know, that they're going to undertake with
this. so with that, we're going to close the hearing. i would state for the record, the record will be open until thursday, until the close of business on thursday, and that will include questions for the record. so with that, again, thank you, mr. mitchell. and the meeting is adjourned. >> thank you.
this afternoon, the democratic policy and communications committee holds a hearing on president trump's election commission and concerns over potential privacy violations and voter suppression. that begins live at 3:00 p.m. eastern on our companion network, c-span, and you can watch online or with the free c-span radio app. >> earlier this morning,
president trump spoke at the opening of the 72nd u.n. general assembly in new york. the president talked about north korea and its contempt for international law. here's a part of what he had to say. >> the scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the united nations is based. they respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries. if the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. when decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength. no one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in
north korea. it is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of north koreans and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more. we were all witness to the regime's deadly abuse when an innocent american college student, otto warmbier, was returned to america only to die a few days later. we saw it in the assassination of the dictator's brother, using banned nerve agents in an international outpouring. we know it kidnapped a sweet, 13-year-old japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for north korea's spies. if this is not twisted enough, now north korea's reckless
pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. it is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict. no nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. the united states has great strength and patience. but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy north korea. rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. the united states is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.
that's what the united nations is all about. that's what the united nations is for. let's see how they do. it is time for north korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. the united nations security council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against north korea, and i want to thank china and russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the security council. thank you to all involved. but we must do much more. it is time for all nations to work together to isolate the kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior. >> with the u.s. house in recess
all this week, but members will be back on monday for legislative work. watch the house live on c-span. the u.s. senate gavelled in earlier today with debate and final votes on the nomination of nole francisco to be the next u.s. solicitor general. senators al plan to consider the nomination of william emanuel to be a member of the national labor relations board. a final vote is possible by tomorrow, the last day of work for the week for the senate. follow the senate live on our companion network, c-span2. >> it's that time of year to announce our 2018 student cam video documentary competition. help us spread the word to middle school and high school students and their teachers. this year's theme is the constitution and you. and we're asking students to choose a provision of the u.s. constitution and create a video illustrating why it's important. our competition is open to all middle school and high school
students grade 6 through 12. students can work alone or in a group up to three and produce a five to seven-minute documentary on the position selected. including some c-span programming and also explore opposing opinions. $100,000 will be awarded in cash prizes. the grand prize of $5,000 will go to the student or team with the best overall entry. the deadline is january 18th, 2018. mark your calendars and help us spread the word to student filmmakers. for more information, go to our website, studentcam.org. ♪
♪ coming up next, a hearing on the future of self-driving trucks. and how federal regulators can promote innovation and safety in the development of these vehicles. witnesses talk about the need for a new framework to guide the development and implementation of self-driving technologies and how these cars will impact future infrastructure projects. held by the senate transportation committee, this is about two hours.